The highest waterfall in England
High Force is one of the most impressive waterfalls in England. The River Tees has been plunging into this gorge for thousands of years. The rocks beneath are Dolorite, a super hard igneous rock dating back over 300 million years!
It begins as a trickle, high on the heather covered fells at the top of the North Pennines. From the top of the whin sill rock at Forest-in-Teesdale, the River Tees steadily grows and gathers pace.
Suddenly it drops spectacularly 21 metres into the pool below. The water thunders over the edge of the rocks in an impressive torrent.
A pretty woodland walk leads you to view this spectacular sight at the base of the falls. Access is from the High Force Hotel and there is a small charge.
The Durham Dales are not as popular as the more famous Yorkshire Dales, but they are just as dramatic. High Force is a must see if you are visiting Teesdale.
The nearby Bowlees visitor centre, managed by the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has a local produce cafe serving lunches and snacks . The centre contains a wealth of local information including walking routes to the falls.
The routes are well mapped and you can walk from Low Force which is also impressive across the Wynch Bridge and climb up the hill to the top of the waterfall drop.
High Force is surrounded by the stunning countryside of Upper Teesdale and is situated in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
A variety of animal and plant life can be seen throughout the seasons, from a vast array of wildflowers, ferns and towering trees, to roe deer and rabbits. The countryside in summer is absolutely stunning. The emerald landscape is dotted with stone barns, dry stone walls and new lambs.
The High Force Hotel
The High Force Hotel is a great place to pop in for a refreshing drink. It also looks like a lovely place to stay with a nice restaurant. Many of the rooms are recently been refurbished.
It’s from here that you reach the bottom of the waterfall just a short walk through the woods. It’s the easiest way to see the water tumbling down from the top of the falls without doing the climb to the top!
Climb up to the Falls
We decided to take the path to the top of the falls along the riverside. It was sprinkled with summer wild flowers along the way. There were quite a few people out and about but nothing compared to the visitors that throng to the Yorkshire Dales in the summer time.
Along the way we came across some rather lovely stone sheep statues. Later we saw a beautiful dragonfly stone carved waymarker.
We sat by the falls and tucked in to our goats cheese and beetroot butties accompanied by a delightful can of lemon San Pellegrino. A proper middle class picnic.
We walked along to the smaller but just as pretty Summerhill Force a short walk from the Bowlees visitor centre. A recess behind the falls is known as Gibson’s cave. The story goes that it was the hiding place of William Gibson, a 16th Century outlaw. On the run from the authorities at Barnard Castle, the locals brought him food to survive there as he was a popular chap. It would have been an ideal spot for Dominic Cummings when he defied our lock down earlier this year!
We left Teesdale and its lovely waterfalls, tired but happy. What beautiful place! I am sad that it took me thirty years to return there but happy I returned at long last!